In a remarkable turn of events, Investment Migration Insider has learned that former Henley & Partners CEO Eric Major’s recently launched firm Latitude has joined a consortium of firms that includes Arton Capital in bidding on a contract to design, implement, and launch internationally the long-anticipated Moldova Citizenship by Investment Program.
In an exclusive interview with Investment Migration Insider, Eric Major reveals, among other things, that the consortium handed in their bid just weeks ago and that he expects Moldovan authorities to render its decision by the end of this month. The interview is reprinted in full below:
Latitude is bidding on the design and implementation of Moldova’s planned CIP as part of a consortium. Who else is part of the consortium?
Eric Major (EM): Latitude Consultancy Limited was invited by the Arton Group to join a consortium bid for the design, implementation and international launch of the Republic of Moldova’s new citizenship-by-investment program, which issued a tender in mid-April. We also have the backing of many due diligence firms and international marketing agencies that have provided letters of interest to support our bid.
How did this (some might say unlikely) partnership come about?
EM: It wasn’t as unlikely or peculiar of a team-up as one might think if you consider that Armand and I are Canadians with a history working under the old Canada and Quebec Immigrant Investor Programs, so we interacted with one another at different times and in different ways over the years. In fact, when I was the Managing Director of HSBC’s Global Investor Immigration Service, our office financed Arton Capital’s immigrant investor program.
So here we had two competitors working together for mutual gain, and we got to know each other and worked very well for about two years. That experience taught me that it can make sense to cooperate and to team-up with competitors, as you never know where the next opportunity may arise. I can also share with you that the last 6 weeks preparing our consortium bid was equally a positive and rewarding experience.
How do the partners in the consortium complement each other?
EM: Arton Group is the lead consortium member that corporately meets all of the main tender requirements, such as years of existence, capitalization, human resources, etc.. The Arton Group’s international reach, marketing savviness, and promotional panache give us an opportunity to position Moldova as an attractive proposition for future clients and stakeholders.
Latitude brings depth and experience through its government advisory team which was involved in the set-up, implementation and international launch of some of the leading programs in the world. Should the consortium be chosen as the winning bid, Latitude will be the main contributor for setting up the CIU/Agency and all aspects of its operations.
In addition to due diligence firms and international marketing agencies that complement those important aspects of a successful launch, we also have a local partner in Moldova who will be helping us in dealing with the government and progressing the many tasks ahead, should our bid be awarded the public concession.
Moldova has visa-free access to 108 countries, including the Schengen-countries and Russia, but not the US, UK, or Canada. Where do you place a Moldovan CIP in the hierarchy of programs?
EM: What I like about this project is that it provides us with an opportunity to create an offering that will be both price-competitive to the Caribbean propositions and provide a cutting-edge online delivery service. The price point means that we will be catering to the large ‘mass affluent’ market, hence the emphasis on a strong digital capability and efficient service delivery.
But more importantly, it provides us with a chance to raise the living standards of this land-locked nation of 3 million citizens. Moldova is in need of foreign direct investments, so a CIP provides them with an excellent opportunity to raise both capital and international awareness of this unique country known for its great wine and beautiful natural landscape.
When did you hand in your bid and when do you expect a decision?
EM: The tender deadline was May 30, which is the date we submitted our 815 pages consortium bid, in both English and Romanian. It was a herculean achievement, but well worth the experience. We expect a decision before the end of June.
Which other firms or consortia are in contention?
EM: I frankly do not know for sure, but we understand that at least one other company has submitted a bid, possibly two.